Posted by: pennlynn | July 19, 2014

Great weekend

I started writing the following post way….way, back in February and I was using a computer I wasn’t familiar with (and that wasn’t mine) and couldn’t figure out how to get pictures off of my phone to port to this post. I wasn’t able to write in a while due to lack of good computers but an amazing Facebook friend saw my plight and sent me a brand new Acer E laptop so that I can do more writing. This post is dedicated to her, she wanted to remain anonymous so I won’t name her but I will take his time to THANK HER! She has a couple of knitted doggie blankets coming to her soon…as soon as I finish the baby blanket I’m still working on that I started on this trip. So everyone can expect more posts since I now have a working computer YIPPIE so happy and so very thankful to you know who!


Last year my Orthodontist asked me to be a part of a fundraiser called Ski For Kids. She had asked me to come last year (and probably the year before) but things just never worked out. This year she very much wanted me to be a part of it and asked if I would be the guest speaker.  Each year she has one of her patients come and talk about themselves in the hopes that the attendees will connect what they are raising money for to an actual person. So in February I was able to take part and had a great time.


The fundraiser is in support of The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto’s cleft lip & palate and craniofacial anomalies research fund. Let me tell you more about the Ski For Kids objectives as it was posted on the flyer for this year’s event;

~ Orthodontic care for children born with cleft lip & palate is the key part of the overall corrective process SickKids have a number of research studies underway designed to enhance care and determine best practice treatment.

~Clinical study is examining the effects of outcomes of infant orthodontic devices designed to prepare infants born with cleft lip & palate for surgical repair.  A second study is using 3-D imaging to assess the outcome of the use of these devices.

~ Children born with cleft lip & palate often require numerous surgeries initially and during development.  Orthodontists are reviewing surgical techniques to improve outcomes and ultimately optimize best practices.

~ A population-based research study is examining the costs associated with care for children born with cleft lip & palate to determine if nasoalveolar moulding is cost-effective.

~ Medical studies have shown that children with cleft lip & palate have a greater chance of having cervical vertebrae anomalies.  SickKids orthodontist are looking at these anomalies in conjunction with how these children develop overtime.


For me that weekend was a whirlwind of fun. I’m not one to always have fun on my own so I brought my good friend Donna with me. The even was held in Collingwood Ontario about 2.5 hours away from where I live. Donna and I started out after she finished work at 12:30pm Thursday afternoon and got to the hotel after 3pm or was it closer to 4pm…hmm.. anyways we got checked in and explored our room. We stayed at The Westin Trillium Hotel and WOW is that a really nice place to stay. If you are ever in Collingwood and want to stay in a friendly clean really nice hotel I highly recommend that one! See the pictures below.

After settling in for a few minutes we were asked to come to Alpine ski club where everything was being set up for Friday’s event. Donna and I were introduced to the committee members who were doing a fantastic job getting all the stuff together. Donna and I helped fold information pamphlets in half and put them on the tables where the attendees would sit when they come in to rest from skiing. We talked and watched as things came together. After a few hours the whole group went out for dinner at a place called The Huron Club.

This is where the weekend had a low point, as Donna was manuvering her car in to a tight spot the tire caught some ice as she went to hit the break her foot slipped and hit the gas. You can already see what happened, can’t you? Well thankfully we were going super slow but she ended up hitting a concrete pole. The impact was hard enough that the bumper cover popped off on the passenger side. I haven’t felt that helpless in a long time there was nothing I could do. Donna was upset and after consulting with her brother and having the guys in our group come to look at the damage it was determined to be minor and that the car was drivable which was a huge relief. Once Donna got home she had the car looked at and it’s going to cost $1600 to replace the bumper cover, and rebar that was bent. Again I feel so helpless like me Donna lives at home with her mom and supports her mom so like most of us it’s going to be hard to come up with $1600 as when it rains it pours.

When we had got the car bit sorted out dinner was AMAZING I had the trout which were served with maple glazed brussels sprouts and a potato pancake type thing and man was it yummy. As an appetizer I had crispy calamari, my orthodontist had octopus as an appetizer and she made me try it. To my utter amazement I actually enjoyed it but I have to say I will not just “try” octopus it would have to be at that restaurant and that preparation. For dessert I had cheese cake…yummy! Donna had the fish tacos and I’m kind of sad I didn’t try those maybe next time as fish tacos are one of my favourite dishes.

We got back to the hotel and we had a chance to relax watch some TV and sit in front of the fireplace. We headed down to the lobby of the hotel to get some pictures and to have a coffee at the bar, that’s right we had a COFFEE at the bar, not a beer, although I could have used a Strawberry Daiquiri! I asked Donna to help me prepare my speech as I had not yet really planned out anything. I’m a procrastinator so I do typically leave things to the last minute. Every time I tried to think about what I was going to say a wave of panic washed over me and I just gave up. So sitting at the bar drinking our coffees it was so nice, Donna helped me have a stream of thought and an order of things. It was nice having her there and it was a huge help.

We got up early on the Friday had breakfast in our room (my first time having room service) we got ready and headed out to Alpine. Donna took my orthodontists husband to a local auto repair shop to get a first daytime look at the damage to her car. I stayed back and hung out eating and watching people as they were skiing. It was a cold windy day but everyone was having a great time. Donna got back and after she got her teeth whitened we decided to go snow shoeing. We were provided with a guide from the resort named Larry and Larry was amazing. They stopped the ski lift and we proceeded up to the top of the hills where there are trails after getting all sorted out we walked a bit down a trail and it was so calm and peaceful. If I hadn’t had to get back to do a speech I would have loved to keep going it wasn’t nearly as cold and windy on the trail as it was coming up on the lift. We were treated to a trip back down the mountain via ski lift which is not something Alpine Ski hill normally allows but we were treated like VIPs and the view was spectacular. My phone battery died so I was not able to get any pictures which makes me sad :(

I had brought a change of clothes with me so that when I gave my speech I would feel confident however we were running a bit late so as soon as we got back from our snow shoe adventure the festivities got started. Dr. Dagys got it started with a very emotional speech that she couldn’t even get through and I thought I wouldn’t get through mine but I took the mic and just started talking. Since Donna had helped me the night before I had a rough outline and an idea of how I wanted to present what I wanted to say. When I started talking people were still having some conversations and than it started getting quieter until other than me speaking you could hear a pin drop. I want to say that I had not done any public speaking before this and it scared the living crap out of me but when I started talking I had no nerves. I had people laughing (which was one goal) and had people crying, when I finished the crowd erupted and got the greatest gift a standing ovation! WHAT! After my speech I was able to help with the raffle draws where I didn’t win anything but in the live auction someone bid and donated to me an amazing gift a $500 gift card for St. Anne’s Spa (google it) I am thrilled and super excited, and honoured, and speechless, and so grateful.

Once the evening wound down and everyone had gone home we headed back to the hotel to meet up with a group for dinner at the hotel. The restaurant in the hotel is Oliver & Bonacini and it’s so SO good. I had the tiger shrimp linguini, Donna had the salmon. For dessert I had smore cheesecake. I would eat that again if it was in front of me right now!

That Saturday morning marked the last day and we had to check out by 11am so we got up early to take a dip in the pool and the hot tub both of which are outside, yep so while it was -15 we took a dip in a nice heated pool. The fun part was getting from the pool to the hot tub….wow it was cold. After we got back we had breakfast downstairs where Donna and I each had the eggs benedict…oh I can’t even begin to say how good it was. We had a nice drive home where I knitted and we sung to some tunes. I am still knitting the blanket I started in February really need to work at getting that done!

I had a really great time, we raised a lot of money for the charity and I stuffed myself on really awesome food. Thanks so much to everyone who came. Dr Dagys for inviting me, Kelly-Ann Macknight who is the dental hygienist but more than that she is a friend who made the weekend so much fun, shout out to Kelly-Ann’s awesome 2 kids Sky & Ben and to both their husbands. A HUGE thanks to DONNA thanks for being there and supporting me always. I am so lucky to have you in my life.

Now for all the pictures:




Trail we were snow shoeing on.


Donna wasn’t really dressed for the snow so she ended up borrowing a jacket, mittens, and a hat. She is really impressed I took this picture. LOVE YA DONNA!


 Donna was acknowledged for her volunteerism with this nifty tooth shaped vessel filled with awesome stuff!



One of my favourite selfies of this year so far! FYI it was cold and we were in bathing suits!

Posted by: pennlynn | December 31, 2013




As the year comes to an end and we are just officially hitting winter here in Canada and in other places around the world I always think of the seasons.




The new, the messy. Spring represents the start of everything the beginning of a cycle. Where everything is possible and we all cannot wait for the first blooms to start peeking out of the ground.

Around where I live in Ontario we mark the beginning of nice weather when we get our first sighting of a robin. I can always hear people asking or telling each other of when or where they got their first sight. We get excited if we haven’t yet seen a robin ourselves but our neighbor, friend, or family have.

For me spring is messy it’s when the snow is just starting to melt so there are big puddles and slush everywhere so walking around in rain boots is a must! I have 3 dogs at home who hate when it’s raining and spring always means rain. That old saying “April showers bring may flowers” so trying to get my dogs out in that weather is always a trial. I love seeing the first beginnings of spring the first feel of a warm breeze and the end to the colder weather. I am always cold so I am very happy to say goodbye to winter and welcome all that comes with spring.




Summer has to be my favourite season because it’s so nice and warm out! Summer has great opportunity to get out and do some BBQ try new recipes on our smoker. I love the many activities that are available including; camping, swimming, going to the beach, riding a bike anywhere, just getting out and walking without having to worry about a winter coat.  I am my own air conditioner so I can stay outside and keep cool when everyone else in my house stays indoors and relishes the A/C!

The trees and flowers are mostly in full bloom the and summer seems to be the season where you don’t feel rushed it never seems to last long enough but people are more willing to let things drift. I also enjoy all the festivals locally we have Rib fest, multi-cultural festival, blues fest, it’s always fun to get out meet new people and try all the food!

Food is one of the best parts of summer when we all gather with friends sit outside until the wee hours and really connect with each other. The sunshine is awe inspiring and beautiful.

My least favourite part of summer is the insects, I know they are a part of our eco system and that the world would end without them but if went the rest of my life without seeing another bee I would be thrilled. I don’t wish bees not to exist just that I never see them again I have such a phobia of bees its crazy! I run in the other direction and have been known to hyperventilate.




The most colourful off all the seasons for me fall is represents the beginning of the end. I love fall, I love walking and seeing all the colours that are appearing almost before my eyes. What gets me most about fall is the smell; it’s so refreshing and comforting. I enjoy being able to put on a cozy hoodie and a vest and take my dogs for a walk. I really enjoy fall food, apples are coming in to season and all the root vegetables are also up for grabs and I cannot get enough roasted carrots and vegetables.

The down fall to fall (pun intended) is that it means winter is nearing. It also means that people are heading back in doors and becoming more like hermits! Maybe that is just true of me. There are not many fall sports to partake in. Hockey starts in the fall so as a Canadian that’s always exciting a chance that the Toronto Maple Leafs have another kick at the cup.




My least favourite season, it’s downright cold! I do have to say this about winter it is pretty. When you wake up and see the snow on the trees it’s so pretty, then I look at my driveway and see how much I have to shovel and that makes me want to crawl back in to my cozy bed and hibernate like a bear!

I would also mark the holiday season as a plus for winter the feeling that you get with all the Christmas music playing all the time the heart wrenching commercials that air, and the stories of how much good people do during the holidays.

A negative for winter would be the weather.  This year winter has just started and we have already been hit in some areas with piles of snow. In my part of Ontario we were hit (literally) with piles of ice, some people have been without power for a week! I was luck our hydro lines are buried underground so we didn’t lose power. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not have power to have to find some way to stay warm and cozy not to be able to grab something out of the fridge and throw it in the oven to cook, it makes you realize how far we have come as a society.

I do enjoy winter sports, skiing, hockey, snow shoeing, skating. The list goes on. I also cannot imagine celebrating the holidays without snow even though I would love to live year round in a place that is so nice and warm all the time!


The year can go by so fast when you look back at all the season and how they just never seemed to linger long enough. The seasons are the in the background of our life and it’s always hard to remember the good about the seasons when we dwell on the events that happened. As I am in grip of the beginning of winter already I long for the summer and know that means many months from now will just fly by and I will  wonder where the heck all the time went!


What are your favourite seasons and why?

Posted by: pennlynn | October 6, 2013

My Mom

My mom is an amazing person who had a tough life and continues to struggle with life’s challenges.

Marian Jean Loker was born September 7th, 1944 in Kitchener Ontario Canada. She was the oldest of 3 children her half brother Les and sister June were born to Viola and Fred Loker. She and here sister share the same mother and father however her mother was unfaithful and had a child with another man. When I ask my mom about her parents you can imagine her views are colourful. She has nothing but love and respect for her father when she speaks of him you can tell she was a daddy’s girl and she misses him. When she speaks of her mother you can see her visibly get angry, the reasons are because when my mom was only 10 years of age her mother walked out on the family. Something very much unheard of in 1954 I’m sure. As a result and because of social norms her father moved the family in with his sister’s place (my mom’s aunt) and when you ask my mom what she thought of that she will give you “the look”. I’m pretty sure she disliked her aunt more then she disliked her mother. One day I asked my mom about her she told me about a women who held her brother responsible for a lot of her life choices. She made my mom’s life a living hell, my mom was forced to quit school she said this was because she wanted to take care of her grandmother and because she had to get employment as her aunt charged her rent to live under her roof. My mom is a bit fuzzy as to how old she was and I believe she quit at the end of grade 6 or 7.

Listening to my mom tell stories her favourite stories she tells is when she would walk great distances to treat herself to homemade ice cream. She walked over arches that define a bridge on the way she walked ON TOP of the arches….she was a daring young lady!

She never really told me where she met my dad but I know that his interested were varied he loved skeet shooting and drag racing. I’ve also asked her many other questions about their courtship but they had gone unanswered as she would always say she doesn’t remember. What I do know is that the first time they had sex she got pregnant which again not something that was common place back in 1963-1964. They were married on June 28th, 1964 she was 19 he was 22. Mom turned 20 that year and my oldest sister Pam was born November 28th, 1964. My mom didn’t have good role models growing up and I wish I knew what she had been like then. Mom and dad clearly had their hands full because they didn’t have any other kids for long time and it was around this time that both her father and her father-in-law passed away.

On May 28th, 1978 my sister Dawn was born to my parents dismay she was born with a heart defect. They spent their time caring for her at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children but it was no use on June 12, 1978 Dawn passed away. I couldn’t imagine what the death of a child is like nor do I EVER want to know. However I’m sure they took the advice of people around them which probably went something like this “have another child as soon as you can” which is what happened because on June 10th, 1979 my sister Crystal was born and she was happy healthy kid no concerns. They lived as a very happy functional family until September 16th, 1981 when I was born. When I ask my mom if they knew about my differences before I was born I got both a yes and a no….so I’m not sure if they had ultra sounds done or if how I was, was a complete surprise but I was not a healthy baby. Out of the 4 of us girls I was the smallest at 4.5Lbs and I stayed at the local hospital for a bit then was airlifted to Sick Kids in Toronto where we as a family would begin a lifelong journey.

Life continued to get even harder for my mom because on the evening of June 30th 1983 my father passed away of a massive heart attack my mom became a single parent to a teenager and 2 young kids one of which had special needs. It was during this hard time just after he passed that my mom learned that my father had been unfaithful with someone she knew and loved she never did forgive that person but eventually they did reconcile for which I’m very grateful.

As a single parent my mom thrived she is very independent and took to it surprisingly well. She worked hard most times taking menial jobs and sometimes 3 at once. At one point she worked as a tool & die maker and if she hadn’t injured her finger she probably would still have been doing that. Her favourite jobs involved working with the public and she has spent almost 30 years working for the Tim Horton’s franchise at 2 different stores. At the current location she has worked for over 14 years (since the day it opened).

This brings our story to the present where on September 8th 2013 a day after her 69th birthday she suffered a stroke. One of my greatest nightmares has always been finding my mom dead in the house as it was it was as close to my nightmare as I EVER want to get. That morning I woke before my alarm went upstairs knowing that she would probably already be up to hear one of our dogs barking from her room which was unusual. I got our dog out of her room not seeing my mom anywhere at first, once I came back to the living room I saw her, lying on the floor between the coffee table and love seat. Not knowing right away what happened I thought I’d just help her up and when she couldn’t help me help her it STILL didn’t clue in right away but it didn’t take long to. Once I managed to get her on the love seat I ran down got my phone and called for an ambulance. Good news is that she never lost conscienceless and never was admitted to the ICU. She has worked hard to come back but this journey we find ourselves on is going to still be a long one and filled with more ups and downs I’m sure.

She hasn’t lost her humour or her way of looking at the world. She is still very much herself and I have no doubt that come this time next year we will be reminiscing about the time I found her and she nearly gave me a heart attack. She has been though so much but she is a fighter, she is stubborn and she will NOT give up, she is my mother and I would be no one without her. I learned what it meant to be strong, what it meant to love also learned all my curse words from her!! She LOVES chips, she loved the Toronto Maple Leafs, she very much enjoys watching any hockey really doesn’t matter what teams are playing. She is my mom and I couldn’t be more proud to be her daughter!



Posted by: pennlynn | June 13, 2013

I am an open book

Today I had the amazing opportunity to participate in something I had never heard of before.  I was asked to be part of a living library, I was book #7.

The event took place at Lucknow Central Elementary Public School in Lucknow Ontario about 1.5 hours away from where I live. It’s a great small community that has a mixture of farm folks and suburban peeps. My good friend Monica was my companion for the day and we had a nice drive. I love the fact that there is still so much green around, there were farms and not a lot of anything during the drive and it was really nice. I like getting out of the city as much as I can it’s just so pretty out in this world!

I revived an email a few weeks ago from my volunteer coordinator that said “see below” and below was a request from the Educational Assistant asking me to participate in this idea of a living library. I jumped at the opportunity since the idea of educating kids is such a big deal for me. I had no idea what to expect and when with an open mind and empty stomach since lunch was being provided :)  

The idea of a living library is to create a conversation amoungst a group of people so that we may learn more about the people around us in turn this promotes diversity and reduces prejudice.  The living books are typically from all walks of life, from different cultural backgrounds, wide range of ages, and life experiences and vary in their careers.

The way that ours was set up was that each “book” was at a table and table were located all over the school and groups of kids would come and “borrow” us. Before the even the kids were given a description of each “book” and asked to sign up to 8 out of 13 but they were only scheduled for 6 of us. Each period which lasted about 30 mins they came over and each of us “books” talked to them.  I started with telling them a bit about me in the hopes that it would spear them to ask questions.  Some students came ready with questions and some kids just winged it. The kids were great they were accepting and I sensed no hostility from them at all. At some points with was hard since most of the kids seemed really shy they didn’t have a lot of questions and in most of the 6 groups it turned out that I was engaging them and asking them questions. I tried to be informative about what it’s like being different asking them if they had been victims of bullying or seen it happen and all had either been or seen it.  I’m not sure how I was received but I’m sure i will hear both positive and negative (if any) feedback in the coming days. I had sometimes to remember my audience since I am not around young adults everyday I treat them the same as I would my peers and had to remember to keep my filter in place so that I didn’t say anything that they probably shouldn’t hear. I can be negative sometimes and I’m glad I had Monica there who was an amazing help to keep me on track bring up things that were good ideas of things to talk about but also to talk to the kids about herself as well.

The other “books” were a wide range of people there was a nurse, a DJ, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict (who is 9 years sober), Automotive repairman, Salon owner, a mother of an adult with developmental disability, Funeral director, owner of an auto wreckers company, Fitness instructor, a pharmacist, and an openly gay man. I got to meet some of them which was great.

Monica and I asked the kids if they thought the experience was valuable or if it was another one of those school activities that we all dreaded in school but they were really receptive of the experience. They really enjoyed getting to meet different people who had a story to share they said that since they live in such a small town they don’t get exposed to as much diversity they don’t get to see what the world is like beyond their town.

I think the only thing I would do differently now that I know what to expect is weave a story or make what I had to say more engaging or lively…

For lunch there was homemade lasagna, salad, fresh baked bread (still warm, yummy), and homemade brownies for dessert which were fantastic!! A great day had by all I would say!

ImageOn my way out the door I got this as a gift. A cute stuffed lynx and an awesome mug!!


Posted by: pennlynn | June 5, 2013

Tim Horton’s Camp Day 2013

I interrupted my regularly scheduled work week to participate in Tim Horton’s annual Camp Day. My mom works at a local store and every year I choose to skip out on my work day and hang out with her and help raise some money.

Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation provides an amazing opportunity for kids to attend one of their camps free of charge. Children are picked right from the communities where Tim Horton’s are located the children are. The children are selected by a Community Agency or school working with the local Tim Horton’s Restaurant Owners, or they are invited by the Foundation to apply.

There are 6 camps and all do residential and year long programs. The residential programs allow kids to come for 10 days in the summer or something pretty neat they have a stay during March break. The activities are clearly designed to fit the season, in summer they have they typical camp type activities like archery, canoeing, and creative arts but also they have high and low adventure courses which challenge the kids and helps them develop skills that they may not have been able to do so while in their home environment. The winter camp program offers children the opportunity to try dog sledding, skating, and snow tubing. Now as anyone who knows me will tell you I HATE the cold but I would love to go to winter camp and do all of those things!!

Camp Day is a once a year fund raising event where all proceeds from their coffee sales goes directly to the foundation. Almost all stores also hold fun activities to help raise even more money. This year was a bit quite for my mom’s store in terms of activities, we had a BBQ which was donated and graciously ran by our local Pillars company (see pic), we had a games table and a partial car wash. At the games table people could donate $2 and either spin to win a prize or they could choose a sucker which was specially marked to win a prize. Some of the staff were also outside and washed customer’s windshields while they waited in the drive-thru line. To help raise more money I also knitted some dishcloths and sold them for $2 each.

Besides myself who was their volunteering the store also brought in local police officer and a couple firemen to serve coffee. Since I used to work for Tim Horton’s I manned the games table all day and avoided what might have felt like work! :)

To everyone who came out to donate and support an amazing cause THANK YOU! In case you couldn’t get out and buy a coffee you can donate by going to Tim Horton’s website If you live in Canada or the US you can donate $5 by texting the word CAMP to 45678 (Canadian residents) or 41518 (US residents). If you are moved and live outside Canada or the US on the website there is a link to “donate now” and you would be able to make a one time donation though credit card or a little birdy told me PayPal is also accepted however I’m not 100% sure.

I love supporting Camp Day because I believe that camp is a great experience for all kids. I was lucky enough to be able to go to camp 2 years in a row and had a lot of fun because my sister was with me. I don’t remember playing a lot with the other kids so it was a typical everyday experience for me that way but I have no truly negative feelings towards it. I remember getting up and it was always cold in the morning when we would make a mad dash to the dinning hall for breakfast. I also remember having some spending money to buy something at the tuck shop. What were your experiences at camp?

Imageme and Tammy

Imagemy mom and I

Imageme and another volunteer. He is a fire fighter….I forget his name.

ImageThe games table

ImageEveryone having fun yet!! At the drive-thru

ImageBBQ!! This was them just as they were setting up.

I should also mention that one year when I was working I dared my co-workers to raise $1000 and I would shave my head. We had always raised a good amount of money but never this much so I thought meh, I’m safe….yeah took them all of I think 24 hours to do it! So our manager joined the challenge and asked them to raise $5000 and she would also shave her head….yep on camp day we both had nice short REALLY short hair dos.. and before you ask NO I don’t have any pictures, I didn’t think I looked that great with no hair and unless that same store (you all know who you are) raise something like $10, 000 i would volunteer to do that again.







Posted by: pennlynn | May 20, 2013


On May 10th I spent a good portion of my day at the mall, I wasn’t shopping (ok well I did but that’s a part of the story read on my friend) I was lending my voice to an organization that is near and dear to my heart, KidsAbility.  Every year they hold a radioathon to help raise money to continue doing their amazing work.  KidsAbility gives kids with disabilities a start at becoming as independent as possible though programs that start when the child is quite young. They work with the parents and other health care professionals and develop a plan that works to help the child better live / overcome their disability. They work on a verity of fronts to achieve their goals.

When I was a child and I was a part of their program they went by a different name and they were located in a much smaller facility.  I had to work on gross and fine motor skills as well as speech, the teachers and therapists who work there were and still do are amazing.

Places like KidsAbility are hugely important in our communities without them a lot of these kids wouldn’t thrive wouldn’t know the thrill of being independent. Some kids go there for little things and when they over come those obstacles.

In the end we raised over $280,000 which is just amazing and I’m proud to say that I was there and helped. If you want to see their work or donate please visit their website at

Today marked the first time that I published a column. I started with an intro article just talking about me, about my life and what I hope to accomplish in this amazing opportunity. So far just with that one post the response has been more then I could hope for! Getting plenty of positive feedback and a really needed reminder to proof read or have someone else actually proof read as there was an annoying spelling error that could have been avoided. Hope not to make that mistake again.

If you are interested in seeing it or catching other posts I plan on doing a column once a month unless something comes up that I want to talk about. The magazine is called Positive Magazine they’re a lot of amazing posts from people all over the world about all matters of subjects. Please don’t stop at just my column look around, comment, view the writers who have been working so hard on this project for a long time. It’s a labour of love and I can’t believe that I get to be a part of it. Their website is:

Posted by: pennlynn | May 9, 2013


One of the things I dealt with growing up “different” was that I didn’t see myself on TV. I don’t mean me physically (I was ok with that) but a I never someone with a facial difference.  I never saw “ME”! I heard it described like this by African-American actors back in the day. They were so few actors of colour that they couldn’t identify with the shows/movies they were watching.</p><p>I’m a pretty big TV junkie love lots of shows but haven’t really seen someone with a facial difference. I know the show HOUSE did an episode featuring someone with a facial difference but in recent history that’s the only one I’ve seen.

It’s not like I don’t understand why this is.  When you are casting for a role you are looking for something specific and people without a facial difference can be “anybody” meaning there needs to be no explanation as to why they look the way they do. If the actor’s hair is blonde it can be dyed, If the actor needs glasses they don’t have to wear them for the role. With someone with a facial difference there isn’t that choice unless you hire a make-up artist and spend ooodles (yes I just said ooodles) of money to transform that person you are left fitting that individual to that role or vice versa. Knowing this doesn’t make it easier. I grew up envious of people in wheelchairs because they were featured on TV and in a lot of cases there was no explanation needed it was just the actor playing a role.

The first time I could identify with a role was the first time I went to Toronto to see a play called “Phantom Of The Opera”. To be honest the first time it didn’t clue in we were far in the back and I was lulled by the music and the production value. They did a really great job. I have seen that play a total of 3 times in Toronto and each time it resonated with me.  If you haven’t seen or heard of the “Phantom of The Opera” first off where have you been?? and secondly here is a link to Wikipedia I would cut and paste but it’s a long description and better then anything I could write.

It really wasn’t until the most recent movie version came out (2004) that I could identify with it. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the theater production and would see it any night of the week but the movie version was so well done and I could hear all the words and see how it flowed that solidified it as my favourite theater production/movie.  I had never heard of Gerald Butler or Emmy Rossum but now I would watch anything they were in.  The part that gets me every time, is near the end of the movie where the Phantom has lured Christine to his “lair” down under the streets on London and while they are talking Christine’s suitor comes a young man named Raoul and during the scene they are exchanging words at one point Christine says “Have you no compassion” the Phantom counters with “The world showed no compassion to me”…. That one line said in that manner I can’t tell you what that feels like.

We watch movies as an escape but sometimes there are movies that are made specifically to invoke an emotion whether it be anger, sadness, or a sense of belonging. This movie rang with so many truths for me that it’s hard to say one bad thing about it. I will forever love Gerald Butler for his portrayal of The Phantom the heart he brings is a testament to his skill as an actor.




Posted by: pennlynn | May 1, 2013

Belong, National Day To End Bullying

To day is May 1st and has been chosen as THE day to have a big push to end bullying.

Everyone knows that I have been a victim of bullying and this year I have the opportunity to speak out against bullying. Today I got to be a guest on a local TV program called Talk Local Waterloo Region where I was among many guests speaking about the subject of bullying. It was a great experience I got to hear about initiatives that I didn’t know about.

WRPS (Waterloo Regional Police Services) have been active in going to schools and talking about bullying for years. This year they have a contest called “Stand Up Speak Out” where kids up to 18 years of age are able to submit their best anti-bullying message. They’re 3 categories Video, Word, and Art and kids are allowed to enter as many times as they wish but can only win once per category. There will be 3 winners in each category and I have been invited to be a judge. I did get a sneak peak at some of the entries and they are AMAZING it’s going to be hard for us to narrow it down to 3 winners per category!!

The other program being run actively in the area is being put on by Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. The project is called THINK described bye WRCPC as “…an initiative of the Crime Prevention Council that encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to ask five key questions before they text, tweet, email, or post to Facebook” The five key questions tie in to the word THINK: T= is it True?, H= is it Hurtful?, I= is it Illegal?, N= is it Necessary? K= is it Kind? Such a simple concept but one that has a powerful message. I find that these types of community programs have the highest rate of success. They are giving out these blue elastic bands with this acronym printed on one side which are designed to go on one’s smartphone. From what I have read and heard they are doing really well with this.

ImageBlue THINK band on phone

A lot of these programs work because it’s peer-to-peer. We all know that as adults telling kids what to do goes in one ear and right out the other but when we get kids engaged it has the power to make all the difference. The other issue is that sometimes the adults are the issue and it’s the kids we are depending on to teach their parents that bullying like drunk driving needs to be a thing of the past.

This program was aired on local TV and not broadcast online so I will contact the station and order a copy so that I can post on my blog at a later date. The program was really well done not just my segment but the whole show was filled with really great guests.

On an unrelated note my Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoffs for the first time in NINE years!! that’s just crazy. They pointed out tonight on the 6pm news that 9 years ago Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist….I really had to give that some thought to realize they were right!! Right now as I write this my team is losing 4-1 even though they scored the first goal. We are hoping they can turn this around because I would hate for them to get knocked out of the series in the first round.

Posted by: pennlynn | April 26, 2013

Meet Kayla Baker

I headed to Toronto today to check in with my Orthodontist. I was hoping to take these damn braces off and be done with everything but alas they are still firmly glued on to my teeth.

While I was there I wanted to meet a young girl who is local to me that has been doing amazing things. Her name is Kayla Baker she is 14 years old and has been though much in her short life.  When she was 18 months old she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent many rounds of treatment and had surgery to remove a mass that had invaded her young body. Thankfully she was considered to be in remission and spent the next few years being a vibrant girl. At age 11 she was again facing another battle this one because of a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is described by Canadian Lung Association as “…a chronic disease that causes swelling and scarring of the alveoli (air sacs) and interstitial tissues (tissue between cells) of the lungs. The scar tissue replaces healthy tissue and causes inflammation. This damage causes your lungs to stiffen and makes breathing more and more difficult.” It is believed that Kayla’s cancer treatment is what brought this battle to her as certain drugs are known to be linked.

What Kayla needed was a double lung transplant. Kayla was on the wait list for 15 months when she received her gift of life, one lung. Thankfully one can live with just one lung and on April 3rd 2013 she got that amazing gift. Her energy sparked a movement and brought awareness to the plight many are dealing with, the lack of organ donation. She is trying to bring awareness and is also hoping to raise a boat load of money for our mutual favourite hospital: The Hospital For Sick Children” she is trying to raise $10,000.00.

If you want to donate:

I connected over the last week with a family friend of Kayla’s named Sarah Taylor who agreed to talk to Kayla’s mom Susan to see if it might be possible to meet Kayla and get her permission to write about her in my blog. I was THRILLED when she said it would be ok. Kayla has been on a ventilator and now that her new lung is in place has to relearn how to breath something we take for granted. I met Kayla in the ICU today when they were just having her use assisted breathing not having a machine do the work for her. She was visibly scared but she was sticking with it. She wanted her mom there for support and when she started to panic a little her mom held her hand helped her to feel her breath by holding Kayla’s hand to her abdomen. Kayla is such a brave girl and still has a long road a head of her but I know after meeting her that she will pull though it all.

Organ donation still seems to be such a taboo subject. Why are not more people agreeing to become donors.  I have…my stance is that I’m dead what do I need my stuff for? If I can save a life or two, or three…. then my life would have been worth it. All my friends and family know this is my wish. If you haven’t had this talk with your family or friends I urge you to do so. For my Canadian readers please register here:

I found an interesting fact that over 1000 Canadians are waiting for some type of organ. Be it lung, heart, liver, kidney or any other that’s a lot of people that may not make it. The hardest part is knowing that someone has to die in order for someone to live. In that one moment where a family’s life is shattered some are brave enough to offer the gift of life to another family/person. I couldn’t imagine having to wait knowing that but I heard something interesting from Susan (Kayla’s mom)  in a TV interview that said that even if she hadn’t made it Kayla had already made the tough choice to donate her organs. This is one amazing young woman!!

I’m proud to say I have met Kayla possibly in the same ICU room I spent time in when I was just a bit older then her. I’m proud to say that I join her in her quest to bring more attention to organ donation. If you haven’t registered please do. If you are not Canadian please look at the options that are available in your own country.



Other links:

Facebook page called “New Lungs for Kayla”

Run aLung:

Posted by: pennlynn | April 25, 2013

Have you ever “Googled” yourself

I have searched for myself on the internet every once and while before all of this craziness and only a few things came up. I decided to Google my name this evening and I’m kind of shocked at how much comes up. The entertaining thing about Google is looking at the images that they associate with what you are looking for. Try Googling yourself let me know what comes up.

Someone also alerted me a few days ago to an apparent online conversation that was going on social media site called MetaFilter. I had NEVER before see this website and I didn’t stay to sign up because if I sight up for any more social media I will explode!

What was really interesting was the conversation. Most of it was good and constructive and open dialogue about how other people felt about the article but also about their feelings in general. I’m going to copy and paste a few of them and respond to them. In the even that someone reads this and I copy and pasted your comment and you wish me to remove please leave a comment or email me directly and I will take the appropriate action.

sfred wrote:  She was on CTV as well last night, she’s got a lot of guts doing this, and is of course absolutely right. What are we saying when we hold a real, live person to be so grotesque that their picture merits a warning?

me: I agree (clearly) with the bottom portion of this comment. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that when someone looks at ME they don’t “see” me. I also agree there is no amount of “grotesque” within a live human being that deserves any warnings labels.

thelonius wrote: “…….. It seems like that’s the cultural background that Ms. Loker is fighting against – disfigurement is something that must be hidden, it’s too horrible for people to be exposed to or even told about. That’s courageous as hell, and I admire her.

But I’m not totally OK with discounting the reality that a lot of people cannot handle pictures of this, and are pretty traumatized by suddenly being shown them on the news. Not sure what the right thing is here.”

ME: Hit the nail right on the head. I am trying to fight upstream against a society that enjoys placing labels on EVERYTHING, not just people but I mean everything. A really great point that was touched on in this comment was about “hiding” people who have a facial difference and I will touch on this in a future entry.

crossoverman wrote: “I’ll admit it makes me uncomfortable, but I personally view that as a character defect of mine – something I should face and address. 

I am the same way; I know it’s my issue to address, but congenital deformities are something that make me very uncomfortable. But I’m not asking for a warning.”

ME: this comment was in response to el io’s comment which I have boldded above. I LOVE that both of them realize the fault is with them. This is why when I was depressed and it was suggested I try anti-depressants I refused. I don’t/didn’t see my self as different therefore I didn’t think the medications would work since it wasn’t my attitude that needed adjusting but everyone else.

Wingless_angel wrote: “Right on. I have microtia (a relation of Penny’s conditions) and most of my life after early childhood I wore my hair over my ear to save other people from seeing it. Only recently have I realized I should be proud, confident of who I am and if other people are disturbed, well. F***k them”

ME: YOU GO GIRL!! on my good days telling every idiot to F*** off is great in theory but more times then not I’m too afraid to say anything.

SPrintF Wrote: “I don’t know. I’m obviously, physically deformed, but I’ve never expected anyone to accept me as I am. I avoid mirrors and shiny surfaces for a reason; I understand that I am repulsive.

That’s the thing: I’m not blind or stupidly entitled, like this woman seems to be. I understand and appreciate physical beauty. And I understand that I’m condemned to the shadows forever.

In my life, I’ve encountered a few kind people who have been able to smile at me, but they are rare. Everyone else tolerates me, at best, but everyday I see the contempt in their eyes.

“Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.”

Welcome to the world. That’s just the way of things.”

ME: I take offense to this individual saying that I am “…blind or stupidly entitled”. The smart ass in me wants to say that technically i’m visually impaired does that count? But in all seriousness I do not see myself as “blind” or “entitled” I’m FAR from it.  I’m not sure how reading the CNN article lead anyone to believe anything other then that the story was about my experiences. I also don’t look in mirrors or shiny things for the same reason. I have NO illusions as to how I look to others. I’m reminded every day as I go to and from home. When ever I have talked to people I have reinforced the fact that I prefer the shadows. I have been told by many people I know that they had to “get used to me”, I am not immune to the looks I see when parents see me, look at their kid then look back at me and shake their head. I wonder everyday how people can look at me I find myself also repulsive so I really identify with this comment and feel the same angry that this person does. I feel bad if the person who commented this doesn’t have a “family” or “support”. I know by posting this comment readers will be quick to come to my defense. This is strictly not required!!

It really is all about perspective I use humor and sarcasm as a defense mechanistic  It doesn’t always work.  We all have bad days but there is NO way to compare. 

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